Monday, April 29, 2019

BOOK BLITZ & REVIEW for "Come a Little Closer (Georgia Boys, #2)" by Chrissy Brown


Come A Little Closer 
(Georgia Boys, #2)
by Chrissy Brown

Publication date: January 13th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Sophie was the love of my life. Okay, we were twelve the last time I saw her but still. I’ve tried everything to move on—whiskey, women, weed. Nothing seemed to fill the void. Now, ten years later, she shows up out of the blue. The problem, I’m not the boy she used to know. I have a reputation that could ruin everything. Still, I have to try. Even if nothing happens between us, having Sophie in my life as a friend is better than not having her at all. 

Come A Little Closer is the second installment in the Georgia Boys series. It can be read as a standalone novel.
REVIEW:

***(3) out of 5 Stars!

I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if Kevin wasn't such a jerk and man-whore.  I mean, seriously, the book opens with him playing tonsil hockey with another chick, whom he promptly ditches in favor of a just-returned Sophie.  Sadly, though, it is not the last time (by far!) that he spends time in the company of other women.  Even though Sophie is supposedly the love of his life that he's been pining over for the last ten years.  

They do start up a relationship again, but it's just as friends.  Mostly because neither of them is brave enough to declare their undying love for the other.  It is nearly three quarters of the way thru the book before they finally get together.  At which time Kevin finally tries to start acting as a good boyfriend and a decent human being.  Which he actually does a fairly good job of, suprisingly... for awhile.  But then Sophie discovers that she is pregnant and he completely goes off the deep end.  He says some hateful and vile things to her, for which I cannot believe she ever forgives him, let alone as easily as she does. 

The parts where they were getting along and Kevin wasn't being a douche, were actually quite cute and sweet.  The author did a good job of creating a believable relationship between these two, both from the past and in the present.  Which just made it all the more depressing when Kevin acted like a loser.  Still, a decent read, overall "good" lovestory, with a happily-ever-after, especially if you can tolerate the whole cheating vibe better than I can.   


Excerpt:

I blush and shake my head. “We should get started on the bedroom.”

Kevin follows behind me, fiddling with his phone. I refill the paint tray and set it on the bedroom floor. Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” starts playing. Kevin comes up behind me, puts his hands on my hips and begins to move them to the music. He presses against my back. My hands fall to my sides, and I tilt my head against his chest.

“This is not helping my walls get painted,” I whine.

“Come on, dance with me.” he pleads.

I turn around and stare into his eyes. It would be so easy to get lost in them but I can’t. I won’t. My hips stop moving, but Kevin’s still dancing. I raise the paintbrush that’s in my hand and slap him in the face with it. Slap sounds violent. It was more like I grazed him with cream colored paint while my hand slowly moved in front of his face. Kevin stops dancing. His jaw hangs open.

“Game on babe.”

Author Bio:
An avid reader who loves to write. When I'm not reading a book, I'm chasing around my twin girls or my two dogs. Visit my website www.chrissybrownauthor.com. 
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Friday, April 26, 2019

COVER REVEAL for "Pawsitively Poisonous (Witch of Edgehill, #1)" by Melissa Erin Jackson

Pawsitively Poisonous
(Witch of Edgehill, #1)
by Melissa Erin Jackson
Publication date: June 10th, 2019
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery
Every town has its secrets, but no one has a secret like hers. 
Amber Blackwood, lifelong resident of Edgehill, Oregon, has earned a reputation for being a semi-reclusive odd duck. Her store, The Quirky Whisker, is full of curiosities, from extremely potent sleepy teas and ever-burning candles to kids’ toys that seem to run endlessly without the aid of batteries. The people of Edgehill think of the Quirky Whisker as an integral part of their feline-obsessed town, but most give Amber herself a wide berth. Amber prefers it that way; it keeps her secret safe. But that secret is thrown into jeopardy when Amber’s friend Melanie is found dead, a vial of headache tonic from Amber’s store clutched in her hand. 
Edgehill’s newest police chief has had it out for Amber since he arrived three years before. He can’t possibly know she’s a witch, but his suspicions about her odd store and even odder behavior have shot her to the top of his suspect list. When the Edgehill rumor mill finds out Melanie was poisoned, it’s not only the police chief who looks at Amber differently. Determined to both find justice for her friend and to clear her own name, Amber must use her unique gifts to help track down Melanie’s real killer. A quest that threatens much more than her secret…

Author Bio:
Melissa has had a love of stories for as long as she can remember, but only started penning her own during her freshman year of college. She majored in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology at UCDavis. Yet, while she was neck-deep in organic chemistry and physics, she kept finding herself writing stories in the back of the classroom about fairies and trolls and magic. She finished her degree, but it never captured her heart the way writing did. 
Now she owns her own dog walking business (that's sort of wildlife related, right?) by day ... and afternoon and night ... and writes whenever she gets a spare moment. The Microsoft Word app is a gift from the gods! 
She alternates mostly between fantasy and mystery (often with a paranormal twist). All her books have some element of "other" to them ... witches, ghosts, UFOs. There's no better way to escape the real world than getting lost in a fictional one. 
She lives in Northern California with her very patient boyfriend and way too many pets.
The Forgotten Child is her debut, the first in a paranormal mystery series. Her next book, Pawsitively Poisonous, releases June 10th, 2019. 
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

BLOG TOUR & AUTHOR INTERVIEW with K.A. Fox for "The Devil's Own (Murphy's Law, #1)"

The Devil’s Own 
by K.A. Fox
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: April 20th, 2019
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Delaney Murphy has always known she’s the Devil’s daughter. And although the title itself is a burden, she never expects to inherit all her father’s infernal abilities. When her newfound magic begins to poison the people closest to her, Laney must make a choice. To protect the world from the worst she can do, she leaves everyone she loves behind and builds a new life for herself, alone, in a place where she can control the urge to give in to the magic living within her.

But when she recognizes a familiar pattern in a string of murders, Laney leaves her peaceful, isolated life behind and goes on the hunt, unleashing a threat she never dreamed possible. Confronting this menacing specter could mean giving in to temptation and becoming the one thing she fears most. Will she use her magic to do the right thing, even if it means hurting the ones she loves?

~AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Brittany Carter~

1) What gave you the inspiration for the storyline?

Professionally, I often have the unfortunate task of telling people things they don’t want to hear. One of those people, upon hearing the bad news, called me a nasty name and said they thought I was basically the spawn of Satan. As soon as I heard that, I thought, “That’s a great idea for a character.” Then Delaney showed up in my head, told me her story and the rest is history.

2) Are there any hidden themes in the book that you hope readers will discover?

This is a story about choices, decisions we make that aren’t always black and white. Trying to do the right thing is sometimes harder than we think. It’s also a story about how powerful love can be, how much it can change us, for better or for worse. 

3) Are any of the characters based on real people you know?

Yes. In fact, Moose the Hell Hound actually exists in real life. He’s my dog and essentially my fourth child. There are also several close friends and family members I managed to include in some way, from the name of a town to a diner. Even my brother and sister were rewarded for all their years of putting up with me.  

4) Who has influenced you most as a writer?

I have read constantly since I first managed to connect that letters next to each other could equal words. My first huge influences were Terry Brooks (The Shannara Series) and L.M. Montgomery (The Anne of Green Gables Series). I fell in love with The Dragonriders of Pern of by Anne McCaffrey when I was a little older. And urban fantasy will always be top of my list – Lilith Saintcrow, Kim Harrison and Jim Butcher will forever be authors I rush to read any time they have something new.

5) If you could have any three literary characters over to your place for game night, who would you invite, what would you play, what would you serve, and why?

I’d invite C.B Strike from the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith because he’s tough, wounded and trying to do right in the world despite what’s happened in his past. Rachel Morgan from The Hollows Series by Kim Harrison because she does what it takes to help people, even if she knows it’s going to hurt. And Deadpool. Because he’s funny, completely inappropriate and never fails to make me laugh. We’d play the board game Munchkin, because my kids love that game and always win. I make a mean beer bread and artichoke dip, so both of those would absolutely be on the menu. And lots of dessert choices. Because you can never go wrong eating dessert. 

6) Do you feel that you can ever have too many books?

No. “Too many books” is an impossible statement.

Author Bio:
K.A. Fox is a proud military brat who has lived all over the world but now calls the Midwest home. She uses her psychological training to facilitate successful negotiations at work and to convince her husband and three sons that she’s always right. When not writing, she can usually be found hiding somewhere with a book and a bit of chocolate, or chasing after her own adorable Hell Hound. 
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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for "My Best Friend's Mardi Gras Wedding (Boys of the Bayou, #1)" by Erin Nicholas

*****(5) out of 5 Stars!


SUMMARY:

Josh Landry is one of the hottest bartenders in New Orleans. He’s shown many a female tourist that things are definitely big and easy down here.

And he’s now been celibate for a year. Because he finally met her.

Yes, her. The One.

But, after nothing more than a hot goodnight kiss and a promise to meet up again next year if they’re both still interested, she went home to Iowa.

It’s been a long year.

But now it’s Mardi Gras again and he’s ready for his happily ever after.

If she shows up.

***

Oh, she shows up. For her best friend’s wedding.

But Tori is a terrible bridesmaid because all she can think about is her knight-in-shining-Mardi-Gras-beads from last year.

Well, and because she accidentally lays a hot kiss on her BFF.

Aka, the groom.

Unfortunately, no one believes that it was a case of mistaken identity. So, now she has to convince everyone she has no intention of ruining the wedding. She’s going to need a crazy-about-her boyfriend ASAP. Even if he’s just faking it.

Well there’s only one other person she knows in Louisiana...

Josh is all in. In fact, he’s thrilled. And he’s not faking anything.

But the groom isn’t faking his case of cold feet either.

And now Tori might have a choice to make.

REVIEW:

I highly enjoyed the companion series to this one, the Boys of the the Big Easy.  But so far, I like the Boys of the Bayou even better!

Tori is probably one of my all-time favorite characters!  She is so quirky and fun and just totally real.  I feel so bad for her that people in her small hometown never appreciated her.  Despite that, she's grown up to be an amazing person, studying and working hard to become a veterinarian, creating a sanctuary for special needs animals on her farm, and bascially being the best version of her own self.  

Her world was small.  And a little weird if she thought about it too hard...  
...she rarely felt things like pretty or sexy.  
Not so with this guy.  He was looking at her like she was both.  A lot of both.  

And Josh just absolutely loves everything about her!  That is definitely his most endearing quality  that he just accepts Tori for who she is and doesn't try to change her.  We should all aspire to have such an amazing guy in our lives.  (And I'm lucky enough that I do!)   

"Hoo-ee," Ellie said, wrapping her arm around Tori's waist and starting for the dirt path that led from the Boys of the Bayou tour company building to the road. "I've never seen him like that."
"Who? Josh? Really?" Tori asked, tripping onto the road as she tried to look back over her shoulder.
Ellie laughed as she tightened her hold on Tori. "Really. So I'm going to need your life story."

The rest of the cast, at least those in Autre are also SO much fun!  I especially love Ellie, but all of them are delightful.  The love and affection between the characters, not to mention the playfulness and easy banter is so much fun to witness.  And it's amazing that Tori feels totally included and accepted right from the start.  Well, once they'd decided she wasn't pregnant or murderous, anyway.  LOL!  

"You are really underestimating my tolerance level for crazy."

Paisley and Andrew and nearly everyone from the Plantation world, on the other hand, were totally disingenuous and obnoxious.  I seriously did not like any of the interactions with that crew.  It's no wonder that Tori was so anxious to have someone on her side there that she caught a tour bus down to Autre to see Josh  even after he seemingly stood her up for the date they'd set a year before.  

"Well... I'm going to really appreciate it," she said, with a sexy, adorable little smile.
"As in, you'll want to thank me somehow?" he asked, dropping his voice to a low rumble.
Her lips parted and she was staring at his mouth again.  "Yeah," she said softly.
"Well, honey, I think I warned you that bayou boys are dangerous," he said. "But you walked right down my dock anyway and asked me for a favor.  There's no going back now."
"I'm okay with that."

Of course, Tori and Josh face quite a few obstacles on the way to their happily-ever-after.  Many of which were outside influences, but quite a surprising few for both of them from inside themselves.  Luckily, though they were finally able to overcome all the challenges and bascially force their way into each other's arms.  

Tori laughed.  She was having more fun than she'd had in a long time.  Maybe hanging out with people wasn't all bad.  She really liked dogs and cats and cows, but they didn't have great falling-in-love stories to share.  "So I didn't stand a chance once I met Josh?"
Leo shook his head, chuckling.  "Good you realize that.  Just give in."

I can hardly wait to read the installments for the stories of Owen and Sawyer.  Although I'm going to feel really cheated if we don't get to hear Kennedy's tale as well.  Much as I did that we didn't see more of Gus in this volume!   =)  

BLOG TOUR & AUTHOR INTERVIEW for "Lead The Way" by Brittany Carter

Lead The Way 
by Brittany Carter
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: April 22nd, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Fresh off the high of college graduation, Melody James is back in her Podunk town. She needs a job, but first, she’ll spend a lazy summer with no agenda at all.
But life’s got other plans for Melody, ones she’d sooner ignore. When the next-door neighbor passes away, his son returns home to take care of his affairs. Thane Cohen hasn’t been home in ten years. The last time he was, someone accused him of murdering Melody’s parents. Now, after major efforts to recover his self-worth and start a construction company, Thane wonders if enough time has passed for him to clear his once good name. 
At the time of the murders, Melody was the only person who didn’t believe Thane was responsible. But how could she even suggest otherwise when just about everyone in town was convinced of Thane’s guilt? Her brothers would never allow it. With nothing to lose before, Thane packed up and left, leaving the town and Melody behind. Now that he’s back, rekindling an old flame in Melody and proving his innocence are critical. 
When several car windshields get broken and fires start unexpectedly, the world inside their little town is tossed upside down. With Melody’s brother against her, and Thane fighting every attempt she makes at breaking down his walls, Melody’s push for answers leads her to a frightening conclusion. Thane may actually know more about her parents’ death than she was lead to believe. Can she trust him, or has everyone else been right about him all along? Only time will tell if she can let love lead the way. 

*Author previously wrote under the name, Alla Kar.
~AUTHOR INTERVIEW with Brittany Carter~

1) What gave you the inspiration for the storyline?

I’m a sucker for a bad boy that’s a good man. Give him a slow drawl and I swoon. So, I wanted all of that and also to write something that had a bit of forbidden love in it. I love to write chemistry that has to be kept a secret because the romance grows fonder for me when the characters have to fight for it. I wanted to write something other than what I see a lot like billionaire romances, step-brother romance and reverse harem. I wanted to see a romance that blossoms and keeps you turning the pages. I hadn’t, personally, came across a romance where her love interest is her parents’ potential killer. (Not saying that it hasn’t been done, but it’s not done a lot.)

In other words, the inspiration came from wanting something different and forbidden.

2) Are there any hidden themes in the book that you hope readers will discover?

Not really. My main goal was to portray a love that felt true, and I hope my readers see that kind of romance in LEAD THE WAY.

3) Are any of the characters based on real people you know?

Mrs. Arlene is based on quite a few older women that live around the area where I grew up. That feisty, do it myself attitude but put you in your place is common in an old southern woman. Ha! I won’t name any names but the sheriff is definitely some people I know also.

4) Who has influenced you most as a writer?

Nicholas Sparks has inspired me that I can write a romance without sex scenes on every page. Nothing against that, I love a good roll in the hay book, but it seems that’s all I see when I go look at the best-seller’s list. I like to read romances that bloom and come from a true place. Nicholas Sparks really proves to me that you can be successful this way.

5) If you could have any three literary characters over to your place for game night, who would you invite, what would you play, what would you serve, and why?

You really pulled out the big guns with this one. One of my all-time favourite heroes is Shane Collins from The Morganville Vampires because of obvious reasons. Next, I’d like to meet John Coffey from The Green Mile because I just fell in love with his tragic story even though it is heartbreaking. Last, I would love to meet Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye because I became fascinated on how the author made the story likeable even though the main character is a pathological liar. That’s talent. 

I think we’d have meatloaf, mashed potatoes, peach cobbler, corn bread and okra. That was John Coffey’s last meal before the electric chair. And, hey, I’m a southern girl myself, that sounds like a good ole’ meal to me.  

I think we’d play B.S because I’d love to see Holden Caulfield in action.

6) Do you feel that you can ever have too many books?

Definitely not. Reading helps the imagination grow. My husband wouldn’t agree but who asked him? 



Author Bio: 
Brittany Booker Carter previously writing as Alla Kar. I'm a Christian, lover or romance, a wife and mother to a wild-child! 

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

BOOK BLITZ for "Demon Magic and a Martini (The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #4)" by Annette Marie

Demon Magic and a Martini 
(The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #4)
by Annette Marie
Published by: Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.
Publication date: April 12th, 2019
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
When I first landed a bartending job at the local guild, I didn’t know a thing about magic. These days, I’m practically an expert on the different magical classes, but there’s one nobody ever talks about: Demonica. 
Turns out they have a good reason for that. My guild is strictly hellion-free, because who wants to risk life and limb to control the biggest bullies on the mythic playground? 
Well, some people do, and now a demon has been loosed in the city. My three best friends are determined to slay it, but even badass combat mages are critically out-magicked. And that’s not all. The monster they’re tracking — it’s not hiding. It’s not fleeing. It’s not leaving a trail of corpses everywhere it goes. 
The demon is hunting too. And in a city full of mythics, it’s searching for deadlier prey.
If we can’t unravel the demon’s sinister motivations, more innocent people will die, but finding the answers means digging into dark secrets … and learning truths I never wanted to know.

Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn’t a reverse harem. It’s 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.


THE GUILD CODEX: SPELLBOUND

Three Mages and a Margarita (#1)

Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2)

Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3)

Demon Magic and a Martini (#4)

Excerpt:

“Speaking of worry …” Sin’s eyes narrowed. “I heard all about how you went demon hunting with Aaron, Kai, and Ezra. I have to ask … what the hell were any of you thinking?”
“Um, well—”
“You aren’t combat trained, and demons are the fiercest, deadliest opponents out there! Why would Darius even approve it? You’re all idiots.”
I managed a bleak smile. “Thanks, Sin. Appreciate the vote of confidence.”
She sniffed angrily. “You know you aren’t ready for that, and I’d really prefer my friend not get herself killed.”
Couldn’t argue with her there. I’d also prefer not to get killed.
Lifting the tattered book off her lap, she smacked it down on the bar. “We need to look at options.”
“Uh … options for what?”
“Defensive alchemy.” She cast me a flinty stare. “Since you’re all for the dangerous jobs now, you need to be armed with more than a couple of artifacts. I heard you used a smoke screen. What else did you take?”
Bemusedly, I watched her flip the book open. “Just flash-bang potions. What is that thing?”
“My grimoire. All Arcana mythics have one—where we record all the spells or transmutations we’ve learned or invented.” She turned several spotted, liquid-stained pages covered in handwriting and diagrams. “I can make smoke bombs and flash-bangs easily enough, but you need something to stop an opponent. Personally, I don’t like sleep potions. It’s easy to get it on your own skin and then you’re asleep instead of them.”
“Yeah, that’d be bad.”
She skimmed a few more pages. “Enhanced strength is useful, but it doesn’t last long, and unless you’re in excessively good shape, you’ll crash hard afterward. Let’s see … amnesia, no. Fasting potion, no. Enhanced speed, no.”
“What’s wrong with speed? I’d like to be faster.”
“It’s hopelessly impractical. Your body gets faster, but your reflexes don’t, so it’s difficult to control without training and practice. You’ll spend the potion’s duration tripping over your own feet and running into things.”
“Oh.” Too bad. “What’s a fasting potion?”
“Drink it and you won’t need food, water, or a bathroom for about forty-eight hours. Good for certain situations, but you pay for it afterward.” She perused more recipes. “Enhanced perception, air buffer, true sight, anti-emotionalizer, allure-fume—none of these are useful.”
“Allure-fume?” I repeated. “What’s that?”
She winced. “Uh, it’s a … um … perfume.”
I stared at her pointedly, waiting for an explanation, and her cheeks turned pink.
“A few drops on the skin will make the wearer especially alluring to the opposite sex. Like pheromones.”
“Why do you know a potion like that?”
“I tried it out when I was younger, okay?” she muttered defensively. “Lesson learned. You don’t have to lecture me.”
“What happened?”
“I wore it on a first date with this guy I really liked.” “Did it work?”
“It worked on him, plus every male who got within twenty feet of me. I spent our entire dinner date pushing random men out of our booth. I’ve never been hit on so many times in one evening. Most of the men were twice my age and married.”
Fighting back a snicker, I asked, “Did you go on a second date with your crush?”
“No.” She hung her head over the grimoire. “An early sign that my love life was doomed.”


Author Bio:
Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities. 
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

BOOK BLITZ for "Spoken" by Melanie Weiss

SPOKEN

by Melanie Weiss

Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Genres: Adult, Young Adult, Coming of Age

AVAILABLE NOW! (#Free with #KindleUnlimited)

SYNOPSIS

High school freshman Roman Santi has everything — good looks, great friends, a mansion with an infinity swimming pool — except the one thing he really wants. A relationship with his father.
When Roman’s life gets turned upside down, (thanks, Mom!?), he is forced to leave his pampered Hollywood lifestyle and move into his grandparents’ Midwestern home. Sleeping on a lumpy pullout sofa and starting at a new high school is the worst, but Roman’s life starts to look up when his pink-haired friend, Zuzu, and his crush, a classmate named Claire, introduce him to performance poetry through the high school’s Spoken Word Club. While his mom is flying back and forth to L.A., trying to return them to the life they had, Roman becomes part of a diverse group of characters who challenge his rather privileged view of the world. Through Spoken Word, Roman recognizes the hole in his own life he needs to fill and discovers his voice. Spoken Word leads Roman on a journey of new friendships, first love, and finding the dad he never knew.
“Spoken” is an uplifting, funny, and heartfelt coming-of-age story that captures how the honesty of performance poetry binds together students from all different walks of life and forever changes Roman’s life.

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ABOUT MELANIE WEISS


Melanie Weiss is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines for 20 years. She began writing her novel, Spoken, shortly after her younger child left for college in 2015 and she became an “empty nester.” She currently manages a scholarship foundation at her local high school that provides scholarship support to more than 60 graduating high school seniors each year. Spoken is her first novel but it won’t be her last.


Dawn Michelle Hardy
Publicist | Literary Agent | Book Consultant
IG @TheLiteraryLobbyist

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

BOOK BLITZ for "Spin" by K.J. Farnham

Spin
by K.J. Farnham
Publication date: April 11th, 2019
Genres: Suspense, Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Jenna Kemp is a typical high school girl, complete with a loyal group of friends and a seemingly understanding boyfriend. But when the demons from Jenna’s childhood resurface, she’s suddenly spinning out of control – drinking, partying – anything to numb the pain of the past. After distancing herself from her friends and befriending an outcast, her friends and family start questioning and judging her choices. 
But when Jenna doesn’t come home one night, her friends and family realize it’s more than just adolescent rebellion. Jenna’s mysterious disappearance proves that there’s more on the line than they realized. As they sift through a series of her personal diaries, the truth becomes terrifying. Will Jenna’s final diary entry reveal the greatest mystery of all – her whereabouts?

Excerpt:

Bonnie Kemp

I take a deep, cleansing breath as I grip the knob of Jenna’s bedroom door. It’s been thirteen days since I was last in there—a record since bringing her home from the hospital and laying her in her bassinet sixteen years ago.
“Quick in and out, Lulu. Okay?” I ask, glancing down at Jenna’s dog. Every few days, the black lab incessantly whines and scratches where the door meets the floor, eager to enter her beloved owner’s room. Today happens to be one of those days.
As soon as I open the door a crack, Lulu bolts inside, causing me to lose my grip on the knob and forcing the door to fly wide open. The energetic dog quickly gets to work sniffing every square inch of Jenna’s room, as if searching for clues that might reveal her whereabouts.
I smile somberly and shake my head before stepping inside and glancing around the room. The sting in my heart isn’t nearly as sharp as I anticipated it would be, but it’s there, nonetheless.
My gaze falls on Jenna’s desk, which has been left untouched since the police came through to look for items of interest. Surrounding Jenna’s Chromebook is a holder for pens and Post-it notes, a tube of lip balm, a basket with random keepsakes, and a few notebooks and textbooks—all items that the police had left behind.
To me, Jenna is missing, not gone for good. Missing, not dead, despite what the Briarwood Police Department may think. I’m furious that they’ve given up the search. It’s like a slap in the face, thinking about all the stones that have probably been left unturned.
I scan the room one last time.
“Come on, Lulu,” I say as I head for the hallway. I begin to pull Jenna’s door closed, expecting Lulu to make her exit any moment, but she remains seated next to Jenna’s nightstand.
“Lulu,” I press, “let’s go, girl.”
The dog still doesn’t budge. Instead, she whines, her tail sweeping the floor maniacally. Then she sniffs Jenna’s nightstand.
“Ohhh.” I say, joining Lulu next to Jenna’s bed. “I know what you want.” I place my phone on the nightstand and reach for the handle of the second drawer. I close my eyes for a moment, and images of the night I invaded Jenna’s privacy by reading her diary play behind my eyelids. It wasn’t long after that Jenna started changing, and then she went missing. I’ll always wonder if my betrayal was partly to blame.
The guilt in my heart causes me to bring my hands to my face. I press my fingers against my eyelids, as if they’re buttons intended to deactivate the troubling thoughts that are always lingering in the back of my mind. The sensation of Lulu’s cold, wet nose against my elbow, snaps me out of the trance I’ve fallen under, and before I have a chance to change my mind, I pull open the drawer.
My gaze immediately falls on Jenna’s new diary. It’s a replica of the same diary I so callously peeked at last summer, the one Jenna had tossed in the kitchen trashcan after we had a blowout over my betrayal. I’d been shocked to see this new, nearly identical diary (save for the Briarwood High cross-country sticker on the back) when we did a frantic sweep of Jenna’s room after two full days with no contact from her.
Lulu whines, once again pulling me from my thoughts and prompting me to pick up the quart-sized Zip-lock bag full of dog bones next to the diary. Lulu’s tail thumps wildly, zigzagging from the floor to the nightstand as I pull open the bag and remove a bone. The dog happily accepts a treat, and immediately begs for another, so I give the command Jenna used to give as I toss a second bone a couple feet into the air. “Leap Lulu!”
Lulu isn’t quite ready, so the treat bounces off the tip of her nose, falls to the floor, and slides under the two-inch gap beneath the nightstand.
“A little rusty, huh Lulu?” I ask with an amused grin as I get down on my knees and slide a hand under the nightstand to search for the fallen goodie. Lulu whines and pokes her nose under, too, but neither of us can seem to find the treat. “I guess I’ll have to get it with the vacuum later today. Or whenever I feel like vacuuming . . .” I say, resigned to leaving the treat for now. But Lulu continues whining and scratching at the base of the nightstand, so I sigh, grab my phone from the bed, and give it a shake to activate the flashlight.
I get back down on my knees, press my cheek to the floor, and with the help of the light, I spot the treat right away. As I reach my hand all the way into the back-left corner, my knuckles brush against a smooth surface on the underside of the nightstand. The texture strikes me as odd, so as soon as I hand the rescued treat over to Lulu, I return my cheek to the floor and shine the light under the nightstand again, this time tilting my gaze upward toward the underside where I see something that causes my breath to halt. I collapse onto my stomach, momentarily paralyzed.
Could it really be?
A gentle tug results in the sound Velcro makes when its hook and loop fasteners separate. Sitting cross-legged with my mouth ajar, I examine my discovery: a diary identical to the one in Jenna’s drawer.
It can’t be.
I run the fingers of my right hand across the cover and flip it over to reveal something that makes me shudder uncontrollably. Smack-dab in the center of the back cover is a worn Briarwood High School Cross Country team sticker. It’s the diary Jenna had thrown away on the night of our big blowout. She must have fished it out of the garbage after everyone had gone to bed.
Realizing what my find could reveal, I frantically open the tattered notebook and flip to the last entry dated Thursday, October 26, 2017.
I exhale a hard, swift breath when recognition sets in. The final entry was written the day before Jenna went missing.
As I read the entry, I have to remind myself to breathe, and I pause several times to ensure I don’t pass out and to process and reread the most alarming parts … I can’t talk to him anymore . . . he was upset . . . starting to creep me out . . . planned to meet him tomorrow night . . .
I know the howl that echoed through my brain must have escaped me when Joseph rushes into the room. In a daze, I look up at him. His lips are moving, but I can’t hear what he’s saying. I look over at Lulu who’s cowering in the corner and wonder if she knew all along that Jenna’s diary was under the nightstand. If so, why didn’t she let us know? We would have known about his lies much sooner.
I glance around the spinning room and realize my thoughts are irrational and my anger toward Lulu misplaced.
I look back at Joseph and can finally hear him.
“Bonnie? What’s wrong?” He’s crouched at my side with his hands cradling my face. “What is it?”
I stare at him, still speechless.
He maintains eye contact for a moment but then follows my gaze as I glance down at the long-lost diary in my lap. “What’s . . .? Is that . . .” His eyes widen and remain focused on the object in my lap as he settles onto the floor next to me.
I burst into tears and jump to my feet, clutching the open diary to my chest. “It was him . . . it had to be him . . .”
“Bonnie, wait . . .” Joseph scrambles to his feet and reaches for me, but all he gets is a strand of hair because I’m moving too fast.
“He lied. Dear Lord, Joseph, he lied! And he got away with it!”
Joseph enters the hallway behind me just as Shaina jumps out of my way. I glance back to see her with her back pinned to the wall. Joseph gives her a comforting squeeze on the upper arm as he rushes past, so I turn and continue down the stairs and into the kitchen. Joseph rounds the corner as I’m frantically grabbing my oversized purse from the coat hook next to the garage door and shoving Jenna’s recovered diary inside.
“Who? Who lied? And where are you going?!” Joseph asks as he grasps my shoulder. He spins me around with one hand and reaches over my head with the other to hold the door to the garage closed.
“Move your hand, Joseph! I need to get to the police station!” I can barely see through the tears that are flooding my eyes and streaming down my cheeks so fast that the top half of my T-shirt is speckled with drops.
“Okay . . . it’s okay,” he says, slowly removing his hand from the door and raising both into the air in submission. “Just tell me what’s going on. Please. Then I’ll drive you wherever you need to go.”
I squeeze my eyes closed, acutely aware of each painful breath I’m taking. When I open them, Joseph is looking at Shaina, who’s made her way into the kitchen but remains next to the refrigerator. Just like Joseph, Shaina has become accustomed to tiptoeing around the house, especially when I’m having a rough time. A single tear trails down her left cheek in response to my outburst. I want to rush to her, to comfort her, but I can’t right now. Not when the key to Jenna’s whereabouts could now be in my possession.
“No,” I say, calling Joseph’s attention back to me. I reach into my bag to retrieve the diary and hold it out to him. “I’ll drive. You read.” After he takes it, I sniffle and straighten my posture, my expression once again strong, determined, and resolute. “It’s the last entry. The one from October twenty-sixth. We’re going to find her, Joseph.”





Author Bio:
K. J. Farnham writes contemporary fiction for women and young adults. A former educator who grew up in the Milwaukee area, she now resides in western Wisconsin with her husband and three children. To learn more, visit her website at www.kjfarnham.com. 




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Monday, April 15, 2019

BOOK REVIEW for "Merciless King (Lawless Kings, #5)" by Sherilee Gray


Merciless King

by Sherilee Gray

The final book in the 

Lawless Kings series is here!

It's Van's turn to get his HEA!

SUMMARY:

Two years ago Van King killed a man and saved my life.

I've thought about the handsome private investigator every day since, fantasized about what would happen when I finally saw him again. And when I do, it's far from the reunion of my dreams.

A copycat serial killer wants to finish what I barely survived. Van rushes to my side once more, and shows me the man he truly is: protective, possessive, merciless, especially when it comes to me and my safety. He thinks I'm afraid of him. But I've loved Van from the moment his dark, enigmatic gaze met mine.

This time, I won't allow my fear or debilitating shyness to rule me. I sure as hell won't hide from the heat that explodes between us while I'm under his protection. No, I'll welcome it and beg for more.

Merciless King is the final book in the Lawless Kings series, but each of these sexy, gritty contemporary romances can be enjoyed as a standalone.
 

REVIEW:

****(4) out of 5 Stars!

Like the rest of the King Agency men, Van is deadly and dangerous, dark and brooding.  Still, London is extremely drawn to him.  Okay, so some of her adoration could be due to the fact that he saved her life, and helped her through the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event.  But, come on, there's a lot there to love anyway!  Not only is he physically attractive as described, he's also successful, intelligent, dedicated and protective to a fault.

"...I feel more at ease with you than I do with anyone else..."
"But you find me intimidating?" he said.
I waved my hand at him, indicating all that was standing in front of me.  "Have you looked at you?"

Van, however, is also something of an idiot.  He doesn't think that he's good enough for London or that he'll be good for her, so he keeps away from her for a very long time and pushes her away at nearly every turn.  Which pissed me off because it upset her so often and made her feel as though she wasn't worth his love and affection.  So much so that when he changes his tune on that score, it takes her quite awhile to actually believe the truth of it.  


London is a bit different than most of the other heroines of this series.  For one thing, she suffers from more than a little society anxiety, so much so that it's nearly debilitating, actually.  Certainly, the events leading up to the current action don't help any in that regard.  It would definitely be more than a little disconcerting to have not just one but multiple serial killers targeting you.  Still, London turns out to be incredibly strong emotionally, and even manages to help save herself on a couple of occasions.  


"I've been stabbed five times and survived.  You think I can't survive you?"


There are several interactions with characters from previous books in the series that are great.  It's always wonderful to see the other members of their close-knit group and learn how they are doing as time goes by.  


The twists and turns of the intrigue of this novel are even more intense than in some of the prior volumes, and that's saying quite a bit.  It makes for a lot of mystery and excitement.  Although I'm personally mostly here for the romance, this is definitely a good suspenseful thriller.  Thanksfully, all is eventually resolved and this couple are finally able to get their happily-ever-after.  While I am sad to see the last of the King Agency, this is a wonderful ending to an exceptional series!


I received a free eBook copy of this title from the author, 
and have willingly provided an honest review.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Sherilee Gray is a kiwi girl and lives in beautiful New Zealand with her husband and their two children. When she isn't writing sexy, edgy contemporary and paranormal romance, searching for her next alpha hero on Pinterest, or fueling her voracious book addiction, she can be found dreaming of far off places with a mug of tea in one hand and a bar of Cadburys Rocky Road chocolate in the other.

 Glorious Sinner